We’ve seen an explosion of craft beer and microbreweries in the past decade. As of mid-2018, there were 6,655 independent craft breweries operating in the U.S., more than double the total from 2013 and a 16% increase from 2016. Along with the growth of micro and craft-breweries is the widespread acceptance of shrink sleeve labeling of beer cans. There are a number of benefits to shrink sleeving a beer can. Let’s take a look.
Beer can labels have become a big selling point of a beer’s brand, helping to attract and interest the customer. A great benefit of shrink sleeving is the ability to design highly attractive, graphic labels that promote the brand. Shrink sleeve labels are printed using multiple printing technologies on flexible shrink film, then formed into tubes. They come to the plant either in roll form for machine application or pre-cut for hand application. Once heated through a shrink tunnel, the film shrinks in size and conforms tightly to the shape of the can, producing visually striking break-through branding.
Obviously small brewers are running limited quantity per SKU. In fact, to be called a microbrewery, a brewer is limited to making 15,000 barrels of beer. Craft brewers are defined by brewhouses that produce more than 15,000, but less than 6 million barrels. Using shrink sleeving allows small brewers to avoid the large minimum quantities required to print aluminum cans, and to purchase cans unprinted and label smaller quantities as needed, helping to keep costs in check.
PDC’s R-300 is the ideal machine to tackle the job of shrink sleeving beer cans. The PDC R-300 Can Labeler runs at speeds in excess of 300 cans per minute on either empty or full beverage cans. Other PDC models are appropriate for speeds under 100 per minute, and all speeds in between.
PDC’s complete labeling systems include the label applicator, tooling, conveyor, inspection/ejections systems, steam shrink tunnels and various options. Fully stainless steel versions are available for wet and washdown environments.
Important to beer breweries, PDC offers optional culinary grade steam filtration, which purifies the steam used in the shrinking process. A proprietary Heated Shroud shields empty can openings as they pass through the steam tunnel preventing condensate drip and assuring cleanliness. An optional integrated zero-downtime label accumulator optimizes productivity by allowing roll changes at production speed – no down time.
R Series Can Labelers are mandrel-style machines that use PDC’s proprietary blade technology – a rugged and longer-lived alternative to the fragile “spinning knives” that are standard in many other shrink sleeving systems. PDC blades last months, not days. Similarly, all PDC machines, including the R-300, are made in the USA using high quality, off-the-shelf components, assuring that the cost of ownership remains low throughout the system’s long life. Systems incorporate field-proven controls technology and an industrial main electrical panel that can be UL certified.
For craft and microbreweries considering shrink sleeving their product, PDC offers a Development Lab, one of the industry’s foremost facilities for brand prototyping and package development. The Lab will run your product while our technicians videotape it and send you the resulting samples.
If you would like to learn more about how you can package your product with our high-quality sleeving machinery, we invite you to contact us today. We look forward to working with you!
 American Brewer’s Association